Teachers and supporters head downtown on the "L" for a rally and march. MASH PHOTO/CHRIS PIEPER

Teachers and supporters head downtown on the "L" for a rally and march. MASH PHOTO/CHRIS PIEPER (September 11, 2012)

The walkout staged by Chicago Public Schools teachers this week had a ripple effect on thousands of children throughout the city. Among them are the high school students who work for The Mash, the Chicago Tribune’s teen publication and journalism program.

You can see photos and videos taken by the students at TheMash.com.

Several of The Mash’s teen reporters were at schools, at home, and even on picket lines Tuesday, the second day of the strike, and they shared some of their views and observations.

-- Phillip Thompson, Editor, The Mash

The students:

During this strike we are encouraged to be productive. We are encouraged, as students, to take initiative and go to school sites. We’re encouraged to get ahead in our classes. But I’ve done quite the opposite.

I’ve been sleeping in, watching movies, bowling, babysitting my little sister -- and just taking time to relax.

The first week we were in school, I'd been pushing myself, keeping organized in case the teachers did strike. Just in case the strike didn’t happen, I got all my homework taken care of this past weekend. I’ve been checking online to see if the school website has been updated. And, most importantly, I’ve been relaxing. With a 7:45 a.m. to 3:55 p.m. school day, the week becomes draining and monotonous. A break can rejuvenate an organized or overachieving student so they come back to school more motivated and recharged.

So perhaps the most productive thing to do during the strike is to be unproductive. Does that strike you as surprising?

-- Emma Seslowsky, Lincoln Park High School

I stand with the Chicago Teachers Union for better teaching conditions as they’ll make for a better learning environment.

But I’m not so enthused about this time off.

I realize what the CPS teachers are doing is important, but it’s just such an odd way to start of the school year. It’s pretty surreal. I saw a video of some teachers picketing out in front of my school and it looked like something straight out of a movie. It’s creepy -- all of a sudden the teachers aren’t in charge, it’s the strangest flip-flop.

I’ve taken this “fall break” time to get going on my college essays. And this extra time, I must admit, has been nice -- I’ve gotten a lot of work done. But I’m hoping this gets sorted out soon.

Quick prediction, though: When we get back, at least one teacher will tell us, “Well, this has been a great learning experience!”

-- Marisa Spiegel, Walter Payton College Prep

On Sunday night, while waiting for the final verdict on the decision for the strike, I was reading through my news feed on Facebook. I was so angry at the many posts that my classmates were making. All they could do was think about themselves and whether or not they would be able to pass their AP exams. I’m not dismissing the importance of our education and test scores, but do they not realize that if our teachers are not treated fairly, they cannot pass on their knowledge to us?

It’s not just about the money. They are fighting for us to have better materials, smaller class sizes and a better curriculum—not just a longer school day.

The Board of Education and Mayor Emanuel are depriving us from funds and resources by using this money on a contingency plan when they could have used it to pay our teachers.

Monday morning at 6:30, I spent my day supporting Chicago Public Schools teachers at Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez Elementary School. My mother would bring me there every summer to volunteer and help the teachers out. The teachers were chanting, singing and making lots of noise to get the attention of parents.

Then in the afternoon, we arrived downtown about an hour before a rally at the Board of Education building was officially going to start at 3:30 p.m. There were already tons of teachers blocking Clark and other streets to make sure they caused a scene.

On Tuesday, I also attended the rally downtown with my mom and plan to join the union protests again. I support the Chicago Teachers Union and I’m so appreciative to have them and many other people caring about public school students.

-- Andrea Limon, Kenwood Academy